Believe in the Flowers.

Carol of the Zombie Jesus!

This is probably going to be a short post, which I apologize for. However, things around here have been interesting ...

First, Internet, we can officially say it out loud: Kid #2 will be here in July 2009. The families know, so it's okay to tell everybody else. So there you go, Internet - we're having another baby. Merry Christmas and happy new year.

Secondly, the dear husband has been in an awful mood for two days now and while I typically consider myself a rather tolerant individual, I am very close to tearing my hair out. He is existing in a little pit of self-defeat and frustration, one that he refuses to try to get out of, so for now I'm doing my best to pretend that this is obviously an "okay" way to act and be. Meanwhile my helpful suggestions for ending this moodswing have gotten me nowhere, although I think at one point he may have grunted at me in reponse to something I said. I suppose I should consider that "progress" and put on a smile.

Okay, so a few things to get to now, I suppose - if one can ignore the fact that it is past 3 AM and I have absolutely no intention of going back to bed anytime soon. Even though it's freezing over here, brr.

First, I WON THINGS. This NEVER happens to me, and I have been a firm believer for many years that I am not only incredibly unlucky but probably also cursed in more ways than one. Yet, somehow, I have managed to win two beautiful handcrafted items. The first is an amazing holiday goblet (see it in this post) from Lorrie over at Our Name Is Blog (which, by the way, you should be reading if you are not already). The giveaway was random and the suggested blog topic that I gave was to blog about the worst gift you have ever given someone, or have been given by someone else. Trust me, you need to go look at the entrants; they were all amazing and hilarious. I unfortunately didn't get to participate, but it seems I've won enough and will still try to put something up on that topic, hopefully tomorrow. If you read my blog and not Lorrie's, please, throw up some kind of post or something on this topic anyway if you get the chance.

The second thing I won was a gorgeous picture from Life Spatula, which is yet again another blog you ought to be reading if you aren't already. There's a picture of the painting here and I can't begin to tell you how totally stoked I am about these things. It feels like we have nothing nice in our apartment and both of these things will be welcome additions to an otherwise bland place with skin-tinted walls and posters from PlayStation and computer game hint books. Spatula has given a challenge that I try to draw the scene I portrayed; at the very least I intend on trying to find the picture in question. I know it's at Mom's house somewhere.

You should be able to find both Our Name Is Blog and Life Spatula in my sidebar.

The second thing I would like to note is that WE HAVE A MOUSE. I realize this is an older house and it's winter, but seriously? A mouse? When Colin finally came to bed at, oh, 2:00 AM (he has to be up at 7 AM so this is bad enough) we talked for a little while because he was grumpy about Gmail being rather stupid, and then, right before I'm about to get back to sleep and I'm warm and comfortable and snuggled up with the kid and thinking life's pretty good, he says, quietly, "Oh, by the way, I don't want to scare you or worry you, but ..." I would like to note that this is a HORRIBLE way to start a conversation. Here I am thinking that while I was asleep one of the carbon monoxide detectors went off and I totally missed it and he turned it off instead of waking us up, or he had gone out in the ice storm and something had happened to the car, or maybe my computer had randomly exploded (I've been having a lot of problems with lock-ups recently). Any number of bad things could have occurred and my mind is cycling through the possibilities at 2 AM, going probably 200 mph. Then, "Um, I think I saw a mouse run into Gabe's room." Now, I'd like to note that at that point I had a !!!!!!!! moment for several reasons, because that's just disgusting. Mice don't scare me, but the knowledge that one was IN MY SON'S ROOM is about enough to make me want to ritualistically slaughter something. "I mean, it could have been my hair or something, and it's late, and you know I see things when it's late, but.." 

So I got up and went into Gabe's room - damn kid still doesn't sleep by himself - and pulled his mattress out of his racecar bed, since that's where Colin said he thought the thing ran. I pull out the folded, clean cardboard boxes that stack the mattress up (you'd understand if you've seen one of these things, there's this weird hole in the bed itself - probably to make it lighter - that is smaller than a crib mattress), and just as I'm getting to the bottom I see this gray thing scurry back behind the bed. There was a lot of cussing going on because there I am, standing barefoot in his room with stuff EVERYWHERE. Colin comes in and hesitates, then says he thinks he saw the thing run into one of our only two closets, both of which happen to be in the kid's room. Oh, did I mention that he told me, also while we're laying in bed, that he had seen mouse droppings in a box of unused dishes under one of our lower cabinets? 

So tomorrow while Colin's at work, you will never guess who is going to go on an insane cleaning spree before calling our landlord - who is, ironically enough, the mother of a guy I went to high school with whom I absolutely adored, but not like THAT - and telling her that she ought to send someone quick or I will probably end up going insane, and that would mean she doesn't get rent.

Moral of the story: Do NOT tell your wife at 2 AM as you come to bed that you thought you saw a mouse. Seriously, let me lay in comfort a couple more hours and then go insane about it in the daylight when I can actually do things without waking up the kid.

(Okay, in all honesty I'm glad he told me or I probably would have freaked out when I got up and he informed me, instead of telling me as soon as he knew.)

Today I found a cup.

By "found a cup" I don't mean that I went to a cute little antique store or that I visited a local boutique and searched high and low to find the world's most adorable collectible teacup. There was no "ooh" and "aah" over a perfect price, no negotiation because of that little chip on the rim, no rushing home to Google its origins and maker to see if it is worth anything more than what I payed for it, or if I was ripped off.

I mean that I moved furniture and I found a sippy cup.

This sippy cup was half-full of an unidentifiable liquid that had been sitting under one of our old plush rocking chairs for God only knows how long. I had no idea if it was separated milk that had gotten to the point where all the curd stuff had simply dissolved, or if it was juice from yesterday. I really would have preferred the latter because then it would have smelled like apple.

So I took said cup outside while wearing my dish gloves and thought I'd open it there, for safety's sake. I tend to be affected heavily by smells and I knew if it stank I would regret opening it indoors; the best thing I could have done if I opened that cup inside was to dump it into the toilet and spray some air freshener after I flushed the contents, which would have ended up smelling like cinnamon apple HELL. Besides, you know how frigid winter air works: you can't smell a damn thing because by the time you're inhaling, your snot has frozen the little hairs in your nostrils into hair Icepicks of Doom (yes, it has been that cold here recently). But I swear that when I opened that stupid cup I could smell EVERYTHING about it. It was either milk or chocolate Pediasure; either way it had probably been sitting around for several days too long and had formed some kind of odd congealed stuff on top that I couldn't identify or see before opening the cup. All of my ideas of not being able to smell anything outside were destroyed as soon as I dared to take a breath because trust me, I could smell that stuff, and it smelled like it was going to reach out of that cup and kill me with its bare hands. I dumped what was left onto the gravel and flung the cup around a few times away from myself and the house in hopes of getting as much of the congealed stuff out as I could, then came back inside. Guess what, the smell FOLLOWED ME. I ran over to the sink and dumped in half of a container of our lime-scented "this would destroy the scent of two-day-old dog shit in the middle of summer with one drop" dish soap into the cup and added hot water, then shook it around, and you'd never guess that I could STILL SMELL IT. So now that evil, Godforsaken cup is sitting in the sink, shut, full of hot water and soap, because you had better bet that I will NOT be the one to wash it out. I think I've done my share of dishes for one day.

As time passes, I'm finding that these ups and downs are a bit much for me. They're difficult to handle and deal with, and I think that the worst part is (easily) that there are far more downs than ups anymore. I have always been familiar with the concept of depression and how very powerful it can be, but right now it has surpassed the point of "tolerable" and has gone into the realm of "insane." I've dealt with this before in a similar situation, so I understand what's going on with me - as much as I possibly can, at least - but it seems like this is a spur-of-the-moment insanity that has grabbed me and thrown me around in circles until I'm too dizzy to function. Never mind that thanks to a dysfunctional air mattress, NONE of us are sleeping well, and I'm sure you can see that life in this apartment has, as of late, not been that much fun. Typically, cleaning up the house means both of us looking at each other, sighing, and jabbing one another through a cleanup routine that leaves us with a nicer house but feeling just as depressed as we began.

Meanwhile, I've been doing some soul searching in hopes of finding out what I intend to spend the rest of my life doing. My original intention was to become a choir director, but my experiences in the last couple of years have been less than positive, and while at J-Dub I changed my mind. After the kid was born, I thought I would perhaps move to an associate of science and go into psychology; problem with that being that I would have to spend far too many years in school and it would require more financing than we could manage, either now or in ten years. And I'm not really sure I could handle knowing exactly what is psychologically wrong with myself and the rest of my family. I can easily imagine the kind of hell that would result in, and while I am all for torturing loved ones to the best of your ability, I don't think I'm okay with something that may result in death - either me killing them, or them dispatching of my irritating, psychoanalyzing self.

So I've turned my head toward the only other thing that has thus far appealed to me: midwifery (wivery?). I've done some research into this; the downside would be that the nearest school in Illinois that would offer such courses is in Chicago. There's no way we'll be able to move to Chicago anytime soon, and a ten hour total commute every day is even more impossible, so for now this is something that I'm hopeful I can pull off, but I have no real expectations. I'd rather take it one day at a time, finding out information and doing what little I can to get myself to that point. Still, it feels good to know what I want to do with my life, and better to know that I've finally found something that seems to suit me. I already have a strong grasp on a lot of medical concepts and my prior knowlege of psychology should prove at least somewhat useful in learning what I need to; that way, not everything will be new information and most of it would hopefully be a refresher. Anyone who has any sort of experience with this sort of thing or who has useful advice is more than welcomed to comment.

I suppose, now, that I ought to get going. I have an hour and a half before the hubby is off work, and I had cleaning that I intended to do before then. I'm thinking I may turn DDR back on so that the kid will have something to distract him while I put away clothes and generally pick up this mess that has recently been our home. Wish me luck.

Things around here lately have been .. Interesting.

As most of you are aware, we ended up losing our car around the end of October. The 23rd, actually, I think - it ended up being towed to Lee's Summit, Missouri, which is just outside of Kansas City. Thanks to a lot of help from my mom (mostly financial) and a lot of waiting and playing phone tag, we finally got the car back. Somewhere in there, we also ended up having the power shut off for two days or so, thanks to a gross misunderstanding on the behalf of the woman I had spoken to when we switched the power over to our new apartment from the old one. That in and of itself is a long story that may be shared later, but at this point I can't bring myself to care enough about either thing to ramble off stories and recollections and reasons; all that matters is that it's done and everything is taken care of and fixed. We have power and we have the car.

The emotional turmoil that I'm experiencing right now is inasne. I won't go into the reasons behind what I feel and think, but this is a rough patch for us. Moreso, in an odd way, for me than for "us." The one thing I miss the most is having a social life, though at this point the semblance of one that I once had has dissolved into something I joke bitterly about to myself. The only connection I really have to any of my former friends is through Facebook; an unreliable, at best, vantage from which to watch the life I wish I could have lived continue without skipping a beat. There are times I've imagined to myself what life would be like if I had won $10 million, or if I had finished college, or if our son hadn't been born; cruel as that seems to some, it's something I believe all parents are welcome and entitled to think about, especially when the parents in question are young and haven't lived the same life as their peers. Not to insinuate that I'm a party girl or that I would spend every night out at bars - I've never had much of an interest in drinking or sitting in bars with a bunch of strangers - but there are certain aspects that I know would be very different if I wasn't a mother. I would like to think I wouldn't have lost touch with so much of my past life, that so many of my friends wouldn't have felt compelled to drift away. On one hand, I hardly blame them - a woman with a child tying her to the house who can't always find reliable childcare isn't really worth inviting when "going out" doesn't necessarily mean that a nearly-two-year-old is invited - but at the same time I still wish that there was a certain consideration given that was at least attempted just after he was born. A message or wall post on Facebook is at best impersonal, while I've found that one of my friends I have no number for - and for some reason I've had a lot of resistance in getting it - and the other is constantly busy. 

Which is good, in a way. It's nice to see the people I care about continue with their lives despite the hills and bumps; 80% of the time I'm kept in the know about their accomplishments, although their rough times are dealt with by other, likely more capable, closer friends. It's good to see that they're pushing for their dreams still, ensuring they accomplish the things that they have always said were important to them. Here and there I'm given an invitation to an event I likely can't attend, although most of the time I find my name included in the list of mass invites, the people who likely know the invitee or the person the party is being held for, to a degree - though few seem to be actual close friends.

It's nice to know that my old friends are continuing their lives, but there are some things that still make me sick to my stomach.

The only plus side I've had thus far is that one of my favorite blog authors, Heather Armstrong of Dooce fame, is expecting her second child in June of 2009. It was announced today at and I could not be happier for her, knowing that she had already suffered one miscarriage and knowing too that she and her husband Jon have been going through a lot. I know Leta will make a great big sister.

Recently, the talented and insightful Heather Armstrong (AKA Dooce) wrote on her blog that she firmly believes any woman (or, really, any voter) who intends to vote for John McCain in November should reconsider their options (read the post in question here). She was relatively polite about the whole thing, if you take into account that it's her own damn blog, and she should have the right to talk about whatever she pleases as often as she pleases without suffering from the flack that is often thrown at bloggers who have gotten the opportunity to head to the mainstream with their own website and advertisement (of course, as we all now know, it is practically impossible for that poor woman to enjoy a moment of freedom on her own blog).

Anyway, I digress. The point is that Heather has the right to say or do whatever she wants on her blog. Many long-time readers have apparently gone out of their way to not only threaten to stop reading her blog, but to call her names and even threaten her personal well being. To call this "disturbing" is simply not descriptive enough, and too many of her readers have replied perfectly: individuals expecting only posts that are funny and never anything else are already grossly misled. Her sole purpose in life is not to entertain a specific group of people, but to have a place to share her views and experiences in parenthood - information that many of us have found not only useful but crucial - whatever they may be. It's a pity that she's being tortured like this, excommunicated from some of her fans because they refuse to read about politics on a personal blog. Well, tough; as Heather has said, politics matter to her right now, so she's going to blog about them. She's going to yell her opinions just as loudly as anyone else who isn't afraid to do so. She has proven that she welcomes other viewpoints and disagreement, but how is it fair to threaten her? So stop reading her blog. A few - maybe even a hundred - angry people who can't stand to see a woman empowered enough to make her views publically known aren't really going to change her livelihood. So why they've decided to threaten her openly is a point of contention to me - no doubt they're just trying to be malicious. Nobody's forcing them to read her blog or the political posts. I have absolutely no doubts in my mind that Heather is going to continue to make political statements because it's an important topic to her at the moment. This is true of a lot people, and I don't doubt that many blogs have been inundated with the attempts of many authors to explain their political standpoints.

TL;DR version:
People are treating Heather like crap for no reason. It's disturbing to think that people like them are allowed to intermingle with the more sane among us without some kind of locator device to ensure that the rest of us are safe while the lunatics are out threatening everybody else. I highly admire and respect the people who can state their opinion and disagree without being rude, crass, or threatening.

I went to pick Colin up from work in Mom's car; once we were back at Mom's, she drove us back here to our house. On the way to Mom's from Best Buy, Bobb called almost immediately and he and Colin made plans for Colin to go to Aaron's game. When we got here, to our place, Steve pulled in - maybe ten seconds later - and after Colin helped me get everything inside, he left again with a very half-assed hug. I have no idea when he'll be home and have no intention of making contact with him unless he starts it; I say that for a couple of reasons. First, because he confuses the hell out of me and I assume that he needs his time out to not think about everything that's going on, and secondly because I'm honestly really jealous that he gets to go do things and go out to have time away from Gabe with his friends and I don't. I want that same freedom, that same ability, but if I go anywhere or do anything I have to take Gabe with me. One might argue that it works out because I go to work during the day and Colin keeps the kid, but on the other hand, I keep him at night. I'm not sure where I would take an argument like this from there, except to go on about how I just want to figure out what to do, want things to be all right again as much as he does, want a chance to be an individual as much as he does but when do I get that opportunity? Exactly .. I don't.

Also, I am very tired of a screaming baby and a constantly deflating mattress.

The dreams I have anymore are odd, to say the least. I dream that I'm sitting at home in the dark, watching TV and playing with Gabe, when a truck pulls up in the driveway and repossesses the car - again. I run out crying - "We just got it back and we didn't do anything wrong!" I scream, even though in real life it's still just as gone today as it was yesterday - and beg with the man who is chaining the car up to please not take it, just give us one more day. It's some big black guy, burly and rough and dressed in mobster's clothing, and he pulls out a gun and tells me that the financier just found out that we were children, that we weren't really adults at all, and that children can't buy or own cars. So they have to take ours away. Again. It always seems, throughout the dream, that this same thing had happened the previous night in the dream-world, that it was always a different person who had some to pick the car up before, because in my dream I'm surprised to see this huge killing machine. "Back off," he tells me as he chains up the car. And then he starts to regale me with unrelated war stories, telling me about how in the Korean War his grandfather fought for his right to be an adult and own a car, and those damn people, didn't they know better? Than to fight a real man, an adult, about whether or not he could own something? He points, he laughs, and suddenly my stomach starts twisting and knotting into itself, like some horrible creature has infested me and is tearing through my intestines to try to escape. Finally, it does, and as I'm laying there bleeding to death, the mobster is laughing and waving his gun and I'm watching our car, our beautiful blue Cobalt, crawl out of my stomach and roll back into its parking space as though nothing had ever happened.

We turned the head on the other day, after deciding that, even though we haven't taken out the air conditioners, it's just too damn cold to keep the heat off. The nights are dipping down into the 30s and the days aren't getting above 65 or so. If it were March, I'd be rejoicing for this temperature change, but instead it's October and I'm dreading it. When I was in grade school, the first day the temperature passed 65, I would always beg Mom to let me wear shorts to school. I never liked shorts, never particularly thought that they looked good on me or felt good to wear - you can only burn the backs of your thighs on a sun-heated slide so many times before it gets old - but to me, wearing shorts signified that the days of wearing coats and snowboots to school were finally ending and summer break would be coming up around the corner. I miss summer break, mostly because it was something to look forward. Now that I'm not in school anymore, summer holds no more significance than winter did, except perhaps that spring and summer mean more violent storms and the potential of tornadoes.

To explain the events of the last couple of days, I'll say that yes, we have Mom's car right now. Calling this an inconvenience is an understatement, but at the moment we know there isn't anything we can do to fix it. I had been dreading this occurrence for a while and knew in the back of my head that it was going to happen; having the cell phones turned off at exactly the wrong time hardly made the whole ordeal easier. I looked out of the window by my computer, at one point, and noticed a large vehicle - somewhat like a flatbed tow truck - back into our parking lot. I think it was a combination of premonition and common sense that led me to know that it was going to happen on Thursday night, and after I took Colin to work, leaving me at home with the car, I had that sensation that I really should have gone to Mom's (looking back, I know that they had stopped by the night before and would have continued coming by, likely charging us for each trip to do so, until the police had to be brought into it). I used the man's phone to call Colin at work, and one of our mutual friends and one of Colin's co-workers, Anthony, brought him home. Now we are sans a car and have been informed that there's nothing we can do about it until Monday, because after a car is repossessed there is a 24 hour period in which the paperwork is filed, etc. From what I can tell, we will have approximately 21 days after the date of repossession (so, Thursday) to try to get our car back - this may or may not include having to pay several thousand dollars worth of fees and back payments to catch us up. I can only hope that with any luck we can manage to work this out and get our car back before that 21 days is up...

Boy, do we ever.

The TL;DR version: Our car was repossessed last night. I cried a lot, Colin came home early, now Anthony is being incredibly helpful. We owe a lot of money and are going to do what we can to get it back. Apparently the bill hadn't been paid for three months and we're not placing blame right now, just agreeing that yes, it sucks, and we're gonna try to do our best. God knows we've learned from our mistakes. It's gonna be a long, difficult way to go but we'll manage.

The long version will come later.

Milky Way
For the duration of the spell, hindering terrain directly in front of the target does not affect the target for the purposes of hindrance or taking damage.

For the duration of the spell, target is affected by Tasha's Hideous Laughter.

Three Musketeers
For the duration of the spell, target receives a +1 competance bonus to all swords that deal piercing damage.

For the duration of the spell, target receives a +4 alchemical bonus to Intelligence.

Shock Tarts
For the duration of the spell, target can shoot a lightning bolt from their fingertips once every round.

For the duration of the spell, target gains +2 to Intimidate and +1 to Strength and Constitution.

Jaw Breakers
For the duration of the spell, target is muted.

For the duration of the spell, target receives +2 to Intelligence and -2 to Wisdom and Charisma. Also gains an additional +6 to all Knowledge skills.

For the duration of the spell, target cannot use their mouth for any purpose, including breathing. Their mouth cannot open.

Mike & Ike
For the duration of the spell, target suffers from multiple personalities that happen to not like one another. Names are obvious.

Heath Bar
For the duration of the spell, target suffers from a fatal drug overdose and dies. Cannot be revived. Will probably win a postmortum Oscar.

For the duration of the spell, target is considered dizzied. Is also nauseated.

Hershey's Bar
For the duration of the spell, target becomes female. If target is already female, they suffer a -4 disorientation penalty to all ability scores, saves, and rolls.

For the duration of the spell, target cannot hold any object (inanimate or live) in their hands for any length of time. Objects cannot be picked up, and objects that are being held at the spell's inception will be immediately dropped.

For the duration of the spell, target suffers a -2 to Wisdom and Intelligence but a +4 to Charisma.

Fun Dip
For the duration of the spell, target is available in three fun flavors with an irritating "candy" stick that tastes awful.

Jolly Rancher
For the duration of the spell, target is transformed into a rotund, happy cowboy, regardless of prior gender. If the target is not already male, they also suffer a -4 disorientation penalty to all ability scores, saves, and rolls.

For the duration of the spell, target suffers 4d6 fire damage to their mouth after ingesting the components. However, nothing happens when they are simply held. ("They melt your mouth, not your hands.")

For the duration of the spell, target can spit rainbows up to 10' (the rainbows have no positive or negative effects on the target or anyone else, for that matter, although they might be fun to ride on). They also have the ability to roll a large ball around and pick up inanimate and animate objects, but only while listening to addictive background music.

For the duration of the spell, objects stick only to the target's skin, but any objects (live or inanimate) will stick. "Butterfinger" will end spell immediately.

For the duration of the spell, target cannot remember any proper nouns (you know, the thingymabobber).

Take 5
Target is allowed to step out of combat (or any situation) for five minutes and recover the same amount of hit points, spell points, and ability damage that they would after having gotten eight continuous hours of rest (can only be used once per day).

Reece's Pieces
For the duration of the spell, target is entirely superfluous, but sure does taste good.

Reece's Peanut Butter Cup
A large, invisible animal takes a bite out of the target (cannot call shots). It cannot be summoned again for 24 hours. Damage is 2d6+spellcaster's level.

For the duration of the spell, target appears to be nearly 100 years old physically. However, they are also chocolate coated, so that's good.

For the duration of the spell, target gains a +10 bonus to Bluff checks.

SourPatch Kids
For the duration of the spell, target becomes Calvin from "Calvin and Hobbes" (AKA small and sour, but sweet deep inside. Very deep inside).

Gummy Bears
For the duration of the spell, target gains the ability to bounce off of any inanimate object that is larger in volume than the target. Also gains +10 to all Jump checks. Negates all falling damage.

I have taken a liking to playing mahjong, even though I consistantly manage to prove that I am absolutely no good at it.

The problem, I think, is that when I say "playing," I don't mean to imply that I open up a new game and specifically choose a certain layout, then spend the next hour pouring over strategy options and thinking through each painstaking move to ensure that it is indeed The Right Move and that I am guaranteeing myself some semblance of a win with it. No, what I mean to say is that I will find tiles that match and click on them furiously, sometimes with absolutely no regard as to whether or not I am actually able to USE those tiles according to game play rules. Of course, eventually the game gets through to me and I stop ignoring the pop-up warnings that scream, "YOU ARE A MORON," and always blabber something about blocked tiles. I do not use a strategy, nor do I make any real attempt to necessarily win the game - my only concern is with matching tiles. I tend to ignore my score and the time clock (which, unlike good ol' Solitare can apparently NOT be switched off) and only glance at the number of matches that I have left. If the number is low, that's a good warning sign to me that I probably ought to get ready to lose the game soon, because I can almost guarantee you that I will not be anywhere near winning by the time the "moves remaining" count has hit zero.

Never mind, too, the unspoken rules about pictures of flowers and seasons: just because they aren't exact matches doesn't mean that the tiles don't technically MATCH. As long as it is some semblance of a flower, it can go with any picture of bamboo and vice versa, unless of course it is a CERTAIN small single flower, in which case, while it is still a flower, it does not match bamboo or ANY OTHER FLOWER IN EXISTENCE. "No, don't click that, those flowers don't match and if you try to match them I will probably empty your bank account out and go to Bermuda," threatens my computer after the tenth time I have mistakenly tried to match that certain little flower with any other flower, after constant warnings that THESE FLOWERS DON'T MATCH. They don't, they can't, they never will, despite all of the vague help information that so cheerfully states that any picture of a flower can match any other damn picture of any other damn flower. Don't tell me I'm wrong! The help states that I am RIGHT!

And the seasons tiles? Well, apparently the seasons have been whittled away to pleasant countryside images. No matter; there is some sort of bright and relatively happy picture of green foliage and a blooming tree and somesuch, another of a winter countryside dappled by snow, a pleasant and lovely red-and-orange autumn image, and then a final tile of BROWN AND GRAY DEATHFOG.

No, really. Look at the tile.

I have to wonder sometimes; was summer too much of a drag for these people when they created the game? Or is this representing a season that we don't experience here, one of death and gloom and overwhelming haze? Most people tended to enjoy summer when they were younger, because it meant no school and fewer responsibilities. No homework, no getting up early, all that jazz. Apparently for the people at Microsoft, summer meant that they were probably going to die in an emo, hormonal rage.

Last night I was positive, POSITIVE that what I was suffering from was Most Certainly Allergies, and would go away in a day or two given enough time and perhaps enough Zyrtec, or whatever I felt like taking at the time (we have about a billion generic over-the-counter options in this house, and of course my prescription). The symptoms were all classic allergy: eyes that yearned to be rubbed, a stuffy nose, painfully clogged sinuses, and a throat that wanted desperately to become sore because of all the snot dripping down it. Two days have gone by where we did not sleep well, mostly thanks to Gabe and what are apparently HIS allergies (a stuffed nose and difficulty breathing when he has a bink in, imagine that). Now, my throat aches, my head hurts, and my snot is trying to turn yellow - so I have to wonder if I'm looking at a sinus infection or not. I hope not, but at this point I'm not going to make any big assumptions. Instead, I am going to dope myself up on medication - including Excedrin, thank God for that stuff - and try to go about my day, including work. Colin tried to let me stay in bed a little longer, although "sleep" was basically not an option, since Gabe is fairly sure that anyone who is still in bed had probably ought to be UP RIGHT NOW and doing something interesting with him. This evening, when Colin goes to work, I will likely go to Mom's and hang out there for a while so I'm not the only one watching the rugrat, but I can't imagine her being happy about it. Actually, I can't imagine ME being happy about it. Thankfully, I don't have any laundry or anything to do, so if things do get iffy, I'm free to just leave.

For now, though .. No more post. My head hurts.

As for last night: nobody in town carries steel boning. I would get some kind of coiled wire and use that, but I have no intentions of cutting or tipping it myself, and I already went way over my spending limit because there are too many remnants sitting around that are just screaming for me to buy them and do something with them, maybe, if I try hard enough. So I went back to Joann's and got some of the boxed plastic boning that they have that supposedly doesn't need any kind of tape over it and can be sewn through (we'll see about that). It's nice and wide, and was the stiffest stuff they had, so I can only hope it will provide me with some semblance of the support that I need. That, plus the duck cloth, and I have some hope. I think.

So last night I started making the skirt. I thought it would be fun to cut an upside down "v" out of the front of it and put in some extra remnants I got that would look interesting, but I did something stupid: instead of connecting the sides and then cutting a "v" out of the seamless portion, I purposefully cut a "v" out of the side with the seam. I didn't realize how tacky it looked until afterwards, but I'm hoping that if I put a piece of hem tape over it in the color I'm putting around the edges, it might look okay. Or at least interesting. I really only have three options right now: continue with the plan as it is, reattach the triangles I cut out and deal with how odd that would look in the back of a skirt, or find ANOTHER piece of remnant that doesn't match the first and may not match the rest of the ensemble and attach that in. I think option number one will be what I pick, mostly because two is a lot of work to make look decent, and three is just way too complicated and will probably not end well. So, for now, I will continue with things as planned and try my best to make it work.

I think I'm going to finish up the skirt before I start work on the bodice, just because the bodice will take so much more effort, and I want to feel like I have at least accomplished something if it ends up taking longer than I think it will. I'm already starting to lose my steam; then again, I'm tired. That happens.

So today has started with a car accident in the alley next to the house. I heard the crunching from inside, and went to the one open window to see what happened. I honestly have no idea what happened, but everyone was okay so I suppose it could have been worse. Josh will be in town today, and he and I are apparently going to go to Staples so Josh can see the setup of the store and maybe do a little training? Might be too much to ask, but here's hoping. I think I'm going to go get a shower now so I'm dressed and ready to go whenever he gets into town (he's driving up from St. Louis). He said that his Tom-Tom thinks he'll br here at about 1 PM, but I don't see it taking him three hours to drive up. It doesn't take anybody three hours to get here from St. Louis.

I may do some more work on the skirt after I'm done getting dressed. We'll see - I'm not sure yet how I want to do this. If I'm even in the mood to work on it more right now.

So last night was fun. I was getting frustrated and desperately needed to feel the accomplishment of creating something, even if it was something totally pointless. Naturally, I went straight for the fabric I've had sitting around for a while: a stretchy, comfortable, soft, already-washed blue/teal/green/all odd shades of green and blue length that I've had sitting around for a couple of years now. I don't know how long I've had it or why I got it - I think it was originally for a skirt of some type for Jubilee three years ago or so - but I haven't bothered to do anything with it thus far. I contemplated a cloak, but it isn't nearly wide enough and wouldn't be long enough to manage a cloak and separate hood (a necessity for me because I am obsessive). So last night it finally became the skirt that I had been imagining. Only not as pretty.

At this point it is little more than a hemmed tube. I finally bothered to put a decent hem on the bottom, instead of being lazy and just folding up the fray and stitching it on, I went as far as rolling it over on itself and tucking the frayed edge in completely. I was rather proud of myself for that, especially because it required pinning and forethought and all of those other things I typically don't bother with. I'm hoping to put an elastic waist in, but I have no idea how to go about putting the elastic in once I've done the tube for it - and I still have to do that. Euch. I'm hoping that it will gather enough at the waist that it will look decent; I've worn a tube skirt before and they are UGLY, no matter what fabric they're made out of or what they're decorated with. I was looking for the other skirt last night, in hopes of ripping out the side seam and putting in another triangle of fabric or something to make it more full and attractive, but I couldn't find it. I assume it was packed away in the pile of "questionable clothing that we don't wear and probably need to wash before we reclassify it or get rid of it". I also found a nice swatch of a thick, resiliant black last night that I bought a while ago at Wal-Mart in their $1/yard area. However, I'm thinking instead that I might use it as the inner lining of my bodice - if, of course, that single yard of fabric is enough to serve as a lining. I'm a big person, I need a lot of cloth to make things work!

So today I got my check, and once I've gone and showered and gotten dressed, we'll head out to the bank and then hopefully to get gas, toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, and CLOTH. From Joann's. I hope.

Well, first and foremost, the remnants of Hurricane Ike have made their way rather unceremoniously across our area. I realize that this may not hold true for other portions of the Midwest, but we have in general been quite lucky. The last few days have been nothing but rain and humidity, plenty of clouds and absolutely no happiness when it comes to outside colors. The leaves are finally starting to realize that the cooler temperatures mean that autumn is on its way, and some of the trees are finally starting to drop - but none of them have truly begun to change. Today has been a mix of dark, foreboding gray clouds that thankfully bring no more rain, brilliant patches of blue sky lined by gray and white, and a lot of strong winds. Apparently not enough to warrant the same wind warnings that are in place south of here, but it makes for a great cross-breeze, and it's better when we can only open so many windows here (most of the windows either don't have screens, or the screens are badly ripped and unusable).

We have spent the nicer, drier days in the local parks, taking Gabe out so he can finally meet some of the other children that exist. I'm beginning to realize how strange this must seem for him, to see all these other kids, and have been asked more than once whether or not he was in daycare - I guess it really is that obvious. He doesn't know any other kids, doesn't have "friends" in the traditional sense, but it's tough to get him together with others when we really don't know any other nearby parents with children his age that would be interested in playdates. I think it's all right, though; he's a smart kid and is slowly learning that it really isn't okay to pinch or hit other children. Or us. At all. Ever.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping that tomorrow I can get started on a new project. Halloween is coming, and for now we're going to keep buying Gabe cheap, easily-stored, machine washable costumes from Wal-Mart or whatever. Not because they're well-made, or because I agree with the conditions under which they are constructed, but because they are damn cheap and can be easily put away for other children later on. But for Colin and I, I see no reason to attempt to construct hand-made costumes. Muslin is a fairly cheap fabric, and basic construction for things like shirts and drawstring pants with elastic cuffs isn't as difficult as it looks. I've thus far made a shirt, a bodice, and a tube skirt, and although none of them turned out wonderfully, I did get the experience. The skirt, I think, turned out the best, and even that was a bit of a failure, since a tube skirt is not really the most flattering thing one can end up wearing. I think at some point I'll probably end up cutting out a portion of the original side seam to the knees, or so, and add in some additional fabric so I have not only the contrast but a bit of a flare. Alternatively, I guess I could just cut the side out altogether and re-hem the thing, then use it as a top skirt .. It would look great over black .. Hmm. Anyway! Between my awesome sister-in-law Keri and some helpful online materials, I have come to the conclusion that I should be able to make a formidable bodice, maybe even with some kind of steel boning, for Halloween. The patterns and ideas I have been given are pretty straightforward, with the only potential problems coming in that I don't have a lot of experience with sewing and the last time I made a bodice, it was a totally un-boned two sided affair that was mis-assembled and put together way too quickly. All in all, it was not quality, the fabrics I chose were cheap and looked awful on me, it needed some kind of boning for support (I am a large woman, I have large needs), and the overall pattern was nice and typical, but not suited to my body shape. I have been given another idea by Keri, and have actually found similar suggestions online, although they tend to go a little farther. Keri's suggestion was to put on an old t-shirt, duct tape myself into it in the shape of the bodice that I want, and then cut my way out through the sides. It's a totally awesome idea and I look forward to getting to use the idea, although I think I'm going to take it even farther than that and use another suggestion I have found online. These instructions show basically the same thing Keri was saying, only the girl here has cut the bodice into separate pieces and has made it into a far more intricate but better-fitting affair. I think that doing something like this would be easier, and would also give me a chance to put boning in more of the pieces and to get it positioned better. Originally I think my concern would have been that I would have simply put in the boning where I thought it needed to go, but this way I can have more control over how the boning sits and can adjust the individual pieces to fit me perfectly. There are, of course, several problems with this that I can forsee: first of all, I am no good at sewing, and while I do have the luxury of having a fairly decent machine at my disposal, I have no idea how to do a good hem or how to use the machine to its maximum so that I can get a good, tight, even hem that will not be bulky but that can stand up to the massive amounts of stress that I imagine I will be putting on the fabric and the thread. Secondly, I worry about the exact way to assemble the layers. I figure I will have an inner layer that will be soft and provide some padding against the boning, a separate "layer" that will basically be the boning pockets (which may or may not end up consisting of boning tape and an extra layer of duck cloth over that, to ensure that it can handle a lot of wear and tear), then the duck to which the boning and pockets will be affixed, and finally the outer layer that will be decorative. Add on to that any additions I make, such as decorative ribbon atop the nicer outer fabric, and I am worried that I won't be able to sew through that many layers. If anyone has any recommendations, I will gladly take them! My final problem is that I know most corsets appear to be fully curved and such when not worn - I wonder if this is because they have been pre-molded thanks to wearing, or if this is a shape achieved by the ten-piece cut-and-assemble method outlined in the link I provided. Or, to go even further, if it's a shape that you get by doing yet another assembly method that I'm not aware of. I worry about these things, can you tell?

I'm also sorely tempted to not use metal boning. I am already well aware of some of the problems associated with this, thanks to the underwires in my bras. First of all, the metal CAN snap if enough pressure is put on it, but I assume that the underwire of a bra has stresses put on it that a corset could never imagine, considering that a bra's underwires are curved and end up bending on the flat side when you put a bra on, so I can only imagine that they wouldn't be able to handle the same stresses that a corset's vertical boning would. I also realize that it's easier for the metal to poke through the fabrics, and once that happens there is basically no going back, because no amount of patching will do the trick - eventually the underwire gives out or continues poking through the patches, or makes new holes elsewhere in the fabric. However, for someone who is bigger and well-endowed like I am, I worry that to go braless under these corsets without proper support would prove painful and uncomfortable. I worry that plastic boning would bend too much or not mold to my body the way metal would, and I am positive that the plastic would be more prone to breaking or snapping. 

Tomorrow, assuming my check comes and is big enough, I will hopefully be able to go out and start working on assembling all of the items that I will need. I have absolutely no idea how to go about doing this on my own (Alicia, I need you back! Help!) and could totally use the guiding hand of someone who has done this before (ALICIA COME BACK! Keri, walk me through this!). Though I don't know who I would ask. (ALICIA) (Also KERI plzkthx)

Meanwhile, I have research to do on what hems work best under high-stress conditions. Also, I have to vaccum. Yikes.

To those who are angry because the Chinese are being "brought down" by the controversy surrounding their medals:
First, there is controversy for good reason. A lot of information has been found and then mysteriously destroyed or edited by the Chinese government. This information has consistently shown that SEVERAL of the female Chinese gymnasts - not just He - were under the current age limit (16 years of age by the Olympics in question) while competing in Beijing. Despite having proof of all of this information that has existed and yet disappeared after discovery, the IOC has thus far chosen to ignore protests from EVERY OTHER COUNTRY, not just America, and not investigate the ages of the gymnasts. Only within the last couple of days has the IOC agreed that an investigation is necessary, and who knows how long it will be before someone comes to an actual conclusion as to whether or not everything is in order (please note that while the IOC accepts government-issued passports as identification and proof of age, these documents are easily forged if it's done by the government that issued them). It might well be time for the next Olympics, and if a decision isn't reached by then, these same gymnasts - who are far more likely to be of age by then - will probably be competing again and will not be excluded from the games in 2012. China has, throughout these games, done their part to swindle the rest of the world, including giving TV networks pre-filmed fireworks footage to use during the opening, dubbing the voice of a seven-year-old girl over that of a nine-year-old girl because the original singer was not as cute as her older counterpart, and forcing migrant workers out of the city and quelling family protests over the recent devastating earthquakes to ensure that the rest of the world sees only the "new, positive" face of China and Beijing.
Second, America is well behind in the medal count for golds. China is beating us, and this holds true for gymnastics as well as in general. When Nastia Luikin tied for the gold only a couple of days ago, the tiebreaker software decided that she was the silver medalist, and one of the Chinese gymnasts was the gold medalist. America could have tried to protest this decision, but instead, we held our heads high and were proud that we were on the medal stand. There were many times when the commentators agreed that there were gymnasts from not just America but other countries that had better routines than the Chinese gymnasts that won - but nobody protested these decisions formally. The USA actually won very few gold medals in comparison to the Chinese, so those of you who are upset about whether or not the judging was unfair must be referencing another competitor who won numerous gold medals, which makes me think you're talking about Michael Phelps. Michael is probably going to be undergoing a lot of scrutiny brought forth by not only doubting, pessimistic Americans but jealous other countries who don't believe that one man could have possibly broken the old gold medal count record. He will probably have to take numerous drug tests and undergo the same sort of unwrapping that the Chinese gymnasts are about to go through. I sincerely believe he understands that this scrutiny is part of the process and is as ready for it as anyone can be - as I hope the Chinese gymnasts are.
Third and finally, America is not the only nation disputing the ages of the Chinese gymnasts. We look like the "bad guys" because the only media that we as Americans see is our own (and occasionally that of another country from a world-wide media page like MSN or Yahoo!). The USA is not the only country who wants an investigation into the ages of several of the Chinese female gymnasts. Just keep in mind that when you live in a country, you are more likely to see only what that country reports.
Keep these things in mind next time you believe that China is somehow being wronged.


I would start if I knew where to. We're finally done living with Mom, and if one ignores a few leftover bits of laundry that have been temporarily abandoned at her house, we could accurately say that we've moved out. It's more or less official that we're living here at 12th, and we're working slowly but steadily on our finances. It's a tough maze to navigate, but we're managing somehow. Don't ask me how, because I've no idea.

Last night at Hy-Vee, I fell. I was wearing sandals (flip-flops to some of you) and apparently the floor was wet, but there was no sign stating such. Down I went, to land on the side of my right foot and rather hard on my right knee. It was a rough tumble, and I'm sure that by tomorrow I'll have a couple of decent-sized bruises to show for my trouble. True excitement.

The palsy is improving. I would say at my worst that I had maybe 20% functionality on the left side of my face, and now I'd say that I have a good 90% back. I can tell that I still lack some control, and I have lost a slight amount of muscle tone, but it isn't so bad that I feel as though I'll never be the same. Those few weeks during and just after my diagnosis were frightening, mostly because I had no idea what was going on. Having half of your face completely out of your control out of the blue is certainly not something I would wish upon most people (although I might consider bestowing a lack of muscle control on my enemies) and saying that it is unpleasant is an understatement. Those of you who have had a friend or close family member who has experienced this will likely understand where I'm coming from and why it is so disparaging. I don't think it will be much longer before I'm back to 100%, or as close to it as I'm ever going to get. I'm hopeful, and honestly? I think it might happen.

Past that I guess I don't have much to say. I'm busy unpacking and putting everything we own away, and I'm not making as much progress as I'd like to think!

So I haven't written in a while - a long while, in fact - for a plethora of reasons that include laziness and busy-ness. I would say "business" but that's a very different word. Anyway. There has been a lot going on here, some good things and some not-so-good. Life has been okay, which I think is a satisfactory description of how we've been.

I don't know what day I'm on since I was diagnosed. I do know that by now I should have finished my prednisone, but I haven't yet, mostly because I chose at some point last week to halve my dosage and then stop taking it completely for a couple of days to give my body some time to get off this sick-feeling steroid high. I hate what they do to me, how they made my face hurt at points from the unnatural swelling that they cause. So I decided to do something about it, to go against the recommendations on the label and do whatever the hell I want with my medication and my body, because I kind of think that's my right. If I'm more miserable on the medication than I am taking it, well, don't I have the ability to say, no, I want a couple of days off to let things get back to normal? I'm pretty sure that most medical professionals would at this point roll their eyes and shake their heads and say, you silly patient, thinking you have any right to control your medication in any way. There's a special place in hell reserved just for you. At which point, my thought becomes, well, I was heading there anyway, so knowing I just upgraded from coach to first class is kind of nice. Of course, I'm still trying to figure out what I need to do, short of killing someone, to upgrade to a VIP seat.

There have been a lot of interpersonal problems that are better discussed one-on-one recently, things involving a lot of people that classify as both "friend" and "gaming group." They are interesting problems, things that won't be easily solved either within the respective groups or outside of them - for instance, discussing these issues on a public forum (which my blog is, sort of) will really not help them, which is why I'm not going into a lot of detail. I'm hoping some of them can be fixed.

I am also hoping I will stop being a lazy jerk and start posting more.

It's funny sometimes how much a mood can change in the space of just a few hours. I now find myself run down, exhausted, moody and grouchy. Tomorrow will be working in two separate places (but not two jobs, figure THAT out), bringing Colin home, then mowing the back yard and washing the dogs. Afterwards, I have to get my birth certificate (if I can find it) to Hy-Vee - then call it an early night to get up at 6 AM on Friday. I have no idea when Colin works on Friday, if he does at all, but after I work 7A - 1P on Friday, I have to make a character and have game (somewhere). I wanted sun glasses today - good ones since I can't squint my left eye - because it sucks to have the wind blowing and dust blowing in when I can't get and keep my eyes closed to keep said dust, sun, and wind out. But we had to take Bobb out to dinner at Golden Corral, which meant that $40 - and then some, because of the tip - of my first paycheck was basically blown. Add on another $30 for gas, and suddenly that $100 is basically gone. We don't even have enough to pay the last $30 for the phone bill that would otherwise make 12th street moderately livable, so it will have to wait until the 29th when I get the rest of my check. Or the 26th, when I think Colin may get paid again.

But yeah. Generally, I'm in a bad mood. All I want is a backrub and someone to listen to me cry and whine about my problems, but Colin's instead out with Jesse, Michelle, and Bobb working on characters so that on Friday, Col can run a 4th edition D&D campaign in lieu of playing Bobb's world, since Aaron won't be able to be there. I understand that this is how he deals with his problems and concerns - namely, he does something else so he doesn't have to think about said problems - but it still irritates me. I can't tell him that I don't want him to go, but I don't want to be alone, either... It bites. A lot.

Anyway, I need to make sure Colin has clean work clothes. Never mind that it's 11 PM and I want to go to bed. Mom reminded me, and he's my husband, so it's my responsibility. I just don't have to like it.

I have lost a lot of my appetite for various reasons. Stress, of course, is first and foremost, but it doesn't help any that it's difficult to eat and drink, and that I have lost some of my sense of taste - and what's left isn't quite the same as it used to be. I eat less, and eat less often, which in my case is a good thing (I think). I'm not trying to say that I don't eat at all, or that I barely eat, only that I don't eat as much. Who knew that Bell's palsy could act as a diet plan?

Yesterday we went to get a new bank account at Bank of America. They have those awesome photo ID check cards, but I had to get my picture taken for it - which was a whole new sensation of discomfort. It was also really the first time I had to talk to someone in public that wasn't a medical professional, and it was - as I had expected it would be - awkward. Not horribly so, although I did end up explaining why I was unhappy to have my picture taken, and the woman kindly informed me that once this is over and done with, I can always come in and have my picture re-taken, no charge. I thought that was nice of her.

I think at the moment, I'm really just getting tired of this. I'm taking the prednisone like clockwork and I have yet to miss a dose, but I know that when the ten days is up, I probably won't be much better, or if I am, it will be only slightly. At this point, I hope this only lasts a couple of weeks and not the three to six months (or even the year) that some sites and some affected people report. I don't want to wait that long feeling like I'm only half a person, even though I know that my case isn't as bad as some people's, and that it could be much, much worse. It could be my whole face, I could have lost all muscle function and be droopy on one side, I could have absolutely no function in the left side. I could have been even more stubborn and avoided going into the ER even longer, likely prolonging this case and probably leaving me with even worse symptoms. Things could have been worse, I know that, but it's never easy to acknowledge that when things are as bad as you know them to be.

Unpacking is going slowly still. We don't have much done, and we still have a coffee table and couch in our bedroom. The only room that's even close to being done is the living room, and that's only because the TV and both computer desks are set up in it, but nothing else. The place is a mess and I feel bad for it, because even though I know we haven't been mistreating it, I get the impression that the apartment isn't happy about being full but a total wreck. On the plus side, it still feels more friendly than 14th street ever did, and it certainly feels more like home. That's as much as we could ask for.

Hey, if anybody sees Colin's wallet, let us know, okay?

The morning of day two sees me, I think, in higher spirits. I'm not so focused on what's difficult or impossible for me right now, I just accept what I can and can't fully do and get on with my life. I am so thankful that I didn't have a stroke; I can't imagine living with only partial (or no) use of the left side of my body. It isn't my dominant side - my mother is a leftie but I'm a rightie - but it's still kind of helpful. Like, for typing long blog posts, or making breakfast for a toddler who is SO ready to eat. Although the improvement that I had begun to see last night and very early this morning is gone (I could open the left side of my mouth a little more when I grinned), it still gives me hope that recovery is near. As long as I'm careful, I don't think anyone will notice a change in my speech patterns, although I know that while I'm at work, people WILL notice - and that can't be helped. I think it's almost more frightening that I'm okay with that. Let them notice, even stare, or ask questions if they want. I adjusted to the staring - I WAS, after all, an overweight pregnant girl, and that always draws attention. I could be upset about it, but that won't change the fact that this is here to stay for a while, if not forever in one way or another, and why be upset, then?

I have a baby to retrieve; maybe more later, when things are calm again. Much love.

Bell's palsy.

The name alone is enough to strike fear into the hearts of those who don't know exactly what it is. It brings forth mental images of people stranded in motorized wheelchairs, unable to fully communicate or take care of themselves. That, of course, is cerebral palsy and is not what I'm talking about. That affects a lot more of the brain and thus a lot more of the body.

Let me walk you through my last few days:

Thursday night I went into the ER thinking I had an ear infection. I was told that I didn't, but instead had a Eustachian tube dysfunction and that there was little to nothing that could be done. I had to keep taking my allergy medicine and let it clear up on its own in about a week. Friday I finally got my ears to pop (which was recommended to me by the physician I saw) and almost immediately the left side of my tongue went numb. Saturday night, while working, I realized I was having some trouble smiling fully, that the left side of my mouth wasn't responding the same way the right side was. I figured I was being a hypochondriac.

This morning, when I got up, I could not fully smile. I had trouble eating, I wasn't blinking the same way I was last night, and the left side of my face feels oddly numb, as though a dentist's anesthesia is just barely starting to wear off.

Today, after a long ER visit and a CAT scan, I have learned that I have Bell's palsy.

So let me tell you what this means to YOU: It means that when you see me I will not fully close my left eye when I blink. I cannot fully smile, nor can I puff out my cheeks. I look like a total idiot when I laugh, trust me. I have difficulty eating and drinking (the only positive side-effect of THAT being that I will potentially eat less and slower, which I should have been doing in the first place) and yes, I am aware of it. I have rather painful earaches and headaches that you will probably see me react to. If you see me popping tiny pills, it's okay - I'm on prednisone. It's a steroid, so if you notice that my cheeks are getting puffy or that I'm gaining a little weight, yes, I know, and no, I'm not proud of it. The swelling - if any occurs - should go away after my ten-day dosage is gone. It's a little creepy watching myself smile or try to squeeze my eyes shut, and I can only imagine how it will look to you when you see me. Be warned.

What this means for ME: Bell's palsy, with early treatment, usually begins to clear up within several weeks after the symptoms are at their worst (and there's no telling if this is as bad as it will get or not; rarely, both sides of the face can be affected). There's some confusion within the medical community as to what causes it: a virus, a version of herpes (I am NOT trying to tell you that I have herpes so shut up right now), or something yet unknown. Bell's palsy is a catch-all diagnosis given when doctors can't figure out what else might be causing facial paralysis, but my CAT scan was all right and the numbness and unresponsiveness is confined to my face, so tumors and a stroke have been ruled out. To me, this means that an overweight girl with self-esteem issues has been given one more reason not to like herself. I could begin to recover while taking my medication, but more typically it takes between three and six months to begin to recover, and after that, most patients are almost completely better within a year after the original onset of symptoms. There are other potential problems/symptoms that can begin at any point in time, including memory problems and difficulty with balance/walking. Obviously, my speech is a little off. One of the biggest concerns is that when one eye won't fully close (like with mine), a lot of bad things can happen to that eye if it isn't kept properly lubricated and if the dust and dirt aren't kept out. I may need to wear an eye patch, at least at night. Residual effects are totally possible, and there's a chance that after recovering - however long THAT takes - I may have lingering facial nerve problems.

Bell's palsy is basically when, for whatever reason, a very crucial nerve in the face becomes inflamed (hence the prednisone to help reduce the swelling and, hopefully, the symptoms). The face's reaction is to shut down, because without the reaction of the nerve, it doesn't know what to do.

So that's that. I have Bell's palsy.

Here's hoping for recovery.

So as absolutely none of you know, I've spent the last few days (according to Colin it's more like five or so) struggling with an earache. I am notorious for ear problems: when I was younger I had many ear infections and suffered from ruptured eardrums (a problem that can and usually does lead to hearing problems and deafness) like nobody's business. Somewhere between the ages of three and five, I had tubes put in both ears. Ever since I have gotten an earache every couple of years, although last year I ended up with three consecutive and rather unpleasant middle ear infections although I only had one of them treated (the first I ignored, the second got treated, and the third was privy to having me use the same drops I was given for the second infection). This is because I am a stubborn bitch. I am aware of this. I freely admit this.

So today I finally got off of my rear and after Colin got off work we went to the ER, since I no longer have a doctor (thank you, Medicaid). And since everywhere else was closed, and I was tired of hurting. It was odd, in that whenever I burped or stretched, I would get a sharp, shooting pain in my ear. As of about two days ago, it had become an almost constant, dull pain that had spread into my neck, making me feel generally stiff and unhappy. So, yes, we went to the ER, and surprisingly enough we were in and out in about an hour and a half, tops, which was a very nice and unusual change. I'm not complaining. I think it helped that we went in at about 10:30 PM on a Thursday night - so be sure to plan your Quincy ER visits for about this time and you should be okay. Anyway, we go in, and the doctor - who, mind you, was very very polite and nice - informs me that, well, there isn't anything they can do (and if I come up with a cure, I should let him know, and I will probably end up very rich). Apparently I now suffer from Eustachian tube dysfunction, the type where the tube doesn't open as it should. The directions on my release forms read as follows: "Nasocort [which is a nasal steroid] 2 sprays twice day - cont with Zyrtec [one of my allergy medicines] chew gum as needed." YES THAT'S RIGHT. I have been instructed by a physician to chew gum. So, basically, this is "take your allergy medicine, get a nasal spray, chew some gum and pray to God that your ears pop and that it actually does some good sometime soon."

Kind of makes me want to cry.

So now I get to go take some Tylenol and some Zyrtec. Tomorrow I'll go to Walgreen's and procure the Nasocort, although I'm not a huge fan of snorting ANYTHING so we'll see how long that lasts. Also, my blood pressure was 130/73, which I think is kind of high. But I'm overweight, stressed, and high blood pressure runs in my family. As does heart disease. One would think that this combination of things would make me want to change something about how I live, but it turns out that I am a fat, lazy American, and therefore am probably entitled to die of a heart attack before I hit 50. I really kind of hope that doesn't happen, though - I've sworn to myself to make it to at least 100. That would be awesome.

In other news, I get to go to orientation at Hy-Vee at 10 AM on Saturday. To work in the kitchen. It's great, and I'm not nervous, because if something happens and they screw me over on, oh, anything, it's a second job so I can quit without feeling too guilty. And it means a new shirt. I am all about new shirts.

With the exception of a few bags still out on the porch, we have officially gathered everything from the Broadway apartment that we intend on taking out. It has been a long process that has lasted about a month - we're three days shy of hitting our one-month mark of getting the apartment at 12th street - but I think that in the long run, it has all been worth it. This has been rough, but we've managed, and now the moving's finished and the not-so-rough work of unpacking can begin. I expect this will be interesting in that a good portion of the stuff we have to unpack consists of either baby clothes that need to be washed and stored, or items that didn't get unpacked when we moved from Jefferson to Broadway and that haven't seen the light of day in two years. Our new place consists of a mess of boxes in the game/dining room, which you can barely walk through, and progressively fewer items as you continue through the house. Right now, our couch and several other misplaced things are in our bedroom, we have no bed, and I'm pretty sure that the only things that are in the right place are the TV and a large DVD/book shelf that we got from Best Buy. And there is no way in hell that behemoth is moving anywhere in the house, because at this point I don't know if it would be worth trying to move it.

The best part about the new apartment is that Gabe will have access to pretty much the entire thing, minus the bathroom and kitchen. The layout is perfect for him, in that all of the rooms are open and connected, so hopefully he won't feel so secluded. Now, when we go into the kitchen, there are no oddly-shaped corners for us to disappear around, which always seemed to be one of his biggest problems with the old place. Never mind the fact that now, thank God, there are no flights of stairs for him to fall down - if you ignore the basement steps, which have a door anyway - so the gate that Ellie got for us to use on the steps at Broadway can be put to better use elsewhere in the house. I'm not sure how, yet, but Colin seemed to have a few creative ideas that I've since forgotten.

I worry, though, as I am wont to do, that we've barged head-first into a bad idea. Thus far, things in life have pretty much hopped out at us, and we've taken them as Fate giving us a hand. When we needed a new place, the Broadway apartment jumped out and everything worked perfectly with it, but we did little other research and didn't really look for anywhere else. We took what we were given, and for two years it was satisfactory. When we had our accident and needed a new car, it just so happened that there was a financing option for first-time buyers on, of all things, a bright blue Chevy Cobalt (the Kobold), and it was the right size and price for us. When it came time to move again, another apartment jumped us, one that was a little bigger and had a better layout, and just so happened to be rented - at least partially - by the mother of someone I went to high school with and absolutely adored. It seems scary, in some ways, how everything has worked out for us. We've had to put up with a lot of bad, rough times, a lot of financial problems in the meantime, a lot of weeks without work or enough money to make ends meet, but then out of nowhere my job came along, and I wowed the hiring people enough that even after talking to another, more experienced candidate, they still chose me. We managed to get the LINK card back and could buy groceries again, and when we needed extra time to move, my mother let us stay at her house so we weren't dealing with moving AND a total lack of air conditioning. Things have worked in our favor, as long as we have been patient.

But I can't help but wonder if we've just been too flippant about everything. Thus far, we're the only people that have been totally impressed by our new apartment. Nobody thought our car was a good idea, even though at the time it was our only viable option for transportation. I'm positive, just from hearing the occasional commentary, that despite my best efforts at looking, everyone thought I was a slacker for not having a job yet. I wonder, now, if we've been settling for what is easy and mediocre when we could have been waiting to find the absolute best.

In other news, I've written a letter to an advice columnist that I don't expect to have answered. It is as follows:

"Dear Prudie,
My mother is an aging fifty-something who works full-time and lives at home alone with our family pets. I am 22, married, have a young son, and have not been living with my mother for several years now. She is self-sufficient, but not very careful with her money, and when I was still very young she filed for bankruptcy. The problem? My mother's house is now in a state of disrepair. It is otherwise immaculately and obsessively clean, but about a year ago the joint between an add-on and the main house began to leak when it rains. Now she has ceiling tiles in this add-on room that are falling in and dripping all over electrical outlets and light fixtures. There is mold of every color and size growing on the ceilings and dropping onto the carpets, which have suffered extreme water damage, and I am worried that this mold is affecting not only my mother, but our pets and my family when we come to visit her. Last night, while she was watching our son for us and laying in bed, the ceiling in her bedroom finally gave way and fell, barely missing my son. Now there is bare, drooping insulation in her room and a sizable portion of her ceiling is missing paint and even drywall. I can only imagine what has happened to what little attic space she has, and the contents of such. She has been insisting that she could not afford to pay for these repairs when the leaking began; now I am positive she is correct. Her solution thus far is to further dip into her retirement savings, because, as she has put it, no bank will be willing to accept her credit. This is assuming, of course, that she tries to get these problems fixed at all, which I feel may be the case since she has ignored them this long. I have tried being nice, begging, pleading, and even offering to do research with and for her as to solutions to these horrible problems - but thus far she has not responded. I am the only family my mother has, and I am worried if I threaten her with distancing my family from her in order to fix her house, she will do something drastic (she suffers from clinical depression and a menagerie of other psychological disorders that she does not take her medication for, nor does she see a therapist anymore, and was once hospitalized for self-mutilating at work). How on earth do I convince my mother that there are other options than pulling money out of her retirement - and for that matter, that these repairs MUST be done immediately?"

Who wants to play Prudie for me, assuming that the question will not actually get answered by the real Prudie? Anyone? Anyone?

Last night, Colin and I were out at the 14th street apartment with Jess and Shell, doing more moving work (we're really close to being done moving, by the way; tonight should be the last night of moving, and then it's all unpacking). We came back here around 11 PM, only to find my mother up with Gabe in her chair in the front room, which I thought was a little odd, because usually by then - especially if she has to be to work at 6 the next day, which she did - she would be in bed. I came in and asked her why she was still up, thinking something was wrong, and her immediate response was to ask if I had gotten her voicemail message; that she had called about half an hour prior and I hadn't picked up, so she had left a message begging me to come home immediately. It turned out that a portion of her ceiling had caved in, in her bedroom, and the drywall and paint had narrowly missed Gabe, who had been sleeping in her bed at the time. I came about this close to losing my shit when I heard that, and as I helped her clean up the mess, I lectured her on how this really should have been dealt with before this happened. Her responses were lame at best; all of this bullshit about how she had no idea it would fall in, how no bank would accept her credit and thus she wasn't able to fix it before this, etc. Excuses, really, when it comes down to it. She filed for bankruptcy years and years ago - longer than seven - and has been steadily working on her credit ever since.

So now we're back to trying to book it out of here. I'm hoping nothing else bad happens, because at this point I don't know what I would do or say. Apparently about half an hour after she got to work this morning, Mom got sick and was sent home because apparently a hospital pharmacy is not the place to be throwing up. At this point, I don't know what to do or say, and I need to go shower so I can go hang out in Staples for an hour and a half. At least I get paid for it. I also need to go get gas and tampons. YES, THAT SOUNDS LIKE FUN.

He's an older man, probably in his late forties or early fifties. He's overweight, has short gray hair, and always wears a pair of sunglasses. He doesn't move, stares straight ahead, and usually has a couple of small bags on the ground beside him - a plastic shopping bag and a McDonald's bag, usually nothing else. Every time I've seen him, he's in the same dirty old gray t-shirt and jeans that were probably once white but are now more of a stained smoky color. I've only seen him in two places: just outside one of the entrances to Wal-Mart, or at the Broadway entrance to the Prairie Crossing shopping center, where Buffalo Wild Wings, Best Buy, Lowe's, Kohl's, and TJ Maxx are. I've never seen him walking around, or driving a car, or riding a bus. I've never seen him at home or at work, or out in the community doing something - be it shopping for groceries, or in a park, or at an event.

I guess this guy wouldn't normally have any reason to stick out in my mind. He's kind of a typical-looking man, the sort of grandpa-type figure that looks like he should be sitting out on a porch on a chilly morning in a flannel shirt, enjoying the breeze and sipping a cup of coffee. Instead, he's always holding a sign. It isn't inciting violence, nor demanding protest, or begging for the end of some war or another. It's a simple cardboard sign, maybe a foot and a half long and a foot tall, with words drawn on in black Sharpie, all capitol letters. It reads,


I don't see him at the entrance to Wal-Mart anymore, as I think they probably banned him from the property. I don't know where he sleeps at night, nor what he does during the day when he isn't spending hours standing outside, hoping for something, though who knows what. I have no idea if he's capable actually performing work, or what left him without a job but with too much pride to find another way to fix his problems. I don't know if he has a physical or mental condition that keeps him from working the way you or I might, if he has any education, or if he supports anyone besides himself (my guess would be no). I feel bad for the poor guy, on more than one level, and I have a lot of questions about him that will probably never get answered. I want to help - don't get me wrong - but more often than not, I'm busy trying to take care of myself, my husband, and my son. Being alive costs a lot anymore, and it's rough to take even a dollar or five out of our budget to give it to a man that I can't promise won't spend it on alcohol, or drugs, or something like that.

He isn't the only (assumedly) homeless man in Quincy. I haven't seen him for a while, but there was another older man with a Santa-type beard. He too was bigger, but he always looked pleasant enough, carrying his few belongings down Broadway. There's another that scoots around in a wheelchair; I can only assume he doesn't stand up and push or pull it out of fear that if he does, someone will realize he stole it and doesn't need it, and thus will call the police. But a seemingly disabled man in a wheelchair? Nobody will call the police on him.

Meanwhile, and totally unrelatedly, there is my mother. I think that at some point she was given the option of being either a friendly, attractive, kind woman who took life in stride and used her money responsibly but never accomplished much, or the kind of woman that didn't really like anyone, mismanaged her funds, was easily irritated and had the world's shortest temper, but could get done twice as much housework in an hour as any other human being alive. I think we know which option she took. Now, I love my mother, and I value all of the things she has done for me, but sometimes I don't understand her. Despite all of our moving efforts and the things that still need to be done in this searing heat, she expects us to clean her entire house during the day and do a menagerie of chores that, when you factor in meals and subsequent dishes, and taking care of Gabe during the day, will take ALL day from the time we get up to well after the time she comes home from work. The "best" part is when she comes home and sees what has yet to be accomplished, which leads to a mad dash on her behalf to finish up everything that still has to be done, no matter what it is, immediately after stepping inside, as though she's on some kind of time limit and if she doesn't get the living room floor vaccumed - or, at least, if SOMEONE doesn't - within the hour after she gets back, the world WILL implode and then who will vaccum? Certainly not her.

Last but not least, we have work, and yes, it has been going quite well thank you very much. I'm not a huge fan of Staples but I love being able to go to Best Buy. It's a blast. And for now, that is all.

The last couple of weeks have been rough, which is why I haven't posted much. By "rough" I don't mean that at the end of the day we come back here a little smelly and a little sweaty after a decent day's work, get into bed, and heave a pleasant sigh that says that hey, we've done a good job and get a pat on the back and have probably accomplished something worthwhile today. By "rough" I mean that when we come back here to my mother's house, we grunt and groan and blow up the air mattress for the fortieth time and hate every minute of it. We return aching and exhausted to the point of hallucinating. We are dehydrated and stressed to the point of becoming ill in the many strange ways that stress can make us sick. We have been cleaning my mother's house and caring for it, taking care of ourselves and each other. I have started a job, Colin has been going on with his, and of course we've been caring for Gabe on top of that too. We've been cleaning at the old place and the new, packing, moving, unpacking, dealing with technicalities, paying rent, worrying over things large and small. We have been sorting for trash, keep, and give-away, either by yardsale or charity, depending on the item. We have been driving ourselves to the point of near-death day in and day out for a while now, and amidst it all have dealt with my mother's overwhelming .. Personality .. And have been attempting to keep up with some semblance of a personal life.

So saying that things have been "rough" recently does not begin to describe what has truly been going on behind the scenes. Add, on top of all that, my attempts at getting my business up and running, and for the most part you have a cast of utter failures in the play of life. It's great fun.

We're not quite there yet, but we're a huge step closer than we have been for a while now. It's difficult work to force yourself to keep going in 100F heat (not to mention the humidity) with no decent breeze, and it has been leaving Colin in the throes of heat exhaustion. I think I'm only half-surprised that I'm not yet there myself. Our mornings start early and our days always end late, without fail. It's worth it - always worth it - but it's tough to keep reminding ourselves of that when it seems like we have so little to show for it. The intention of tomorrow is more hard work, another long day, but with any luck tomorrow we will be done, or nearly so. There are several big items that simply can't come over in our poor, abused little Kobold (I know it's a Cobalt, but it's a long story) or in Glen, Aaron's land yacht. They're things that only a truck can help us with, which means that we're at the mercy of Jess and Shell until we decide to find someone else to cart our shit a few blocks.

The worst part is, after all this, I had a relatively funny post going in my head. It was amusing, it was lovely, and it was the whole reason I started typing in the first place - but like most of my brilliant ideas, I didn't get it down fast enough, so my brain has shoved it aside in place of a much better idea. Or, rather, two of them: SHOWER and SLEEP.

So here's to whatever tomorrow brings, which will hopefully NOT be an angry ex-landlord or a new landlord finding out that, um, we sort of have cats in our basement. Even though we agreed to not have even one cat until we found out whether or not our pet-agreement-thing had been accepted sometime in August. And most of all, here's to leaving a house and finally going home.

Isn't it, though? I mean, here we are on July first and surprisingly enough (please, don't laugh) we haven't gotten moved into the new apartment. We're still barely tolerating living with my mother for the time being while we work in occasional bursts to get everything fixed and moved. We're going to be a little late on rent (already, I know, what a drag) and we've given up our landline phone (but have kept the DSL) for the sake of an extra $50 a month or something like that. It means that we'll be relying much more heavily on our cell phones, but that's nothing to complain about, especially when so many people are doing it anymore. It isn't uncommon to find families that only have cells and don't have landlines, right? Worse comes to worst, we can get Skype or actually sign up for some kind of VOIP service, though I don't think we'll have to worry about that for now.

Hopefully this week I'm going to be starting my job. For now, though, Mom has volunteered to order Jimmy John's (translation: I figure out what to get and order it and she pays) so I'm going to fix us up with dinner before I have another breakdown.

This is getting to be hard on me, physically and mentally. I think the mental part should be obvious - dealing with my mother, stress, the recent weather, getting started on my job, the list goes on. But my poor body's physical reactions to this have been just as unpleasant. I am exhausted, to a point I never would have thought possible. I want nothing more than to sleep for a week or two to try to feel like I'm beginning to catch up on all the sleep I've missed thus far and will miss in the future. I spend the day mildly nauseated, especially if I for whatever reason have some type of fast food for a meal. At night, I am thrust into the all-too-familiar realm of heartburn and acid reflux, and if I dare eat after dinner I suffer the consequences. Tonight, I was lucky; I had to get up, but I have yet to start hacking and choking on the acidic bile that has built up in my throat. The other night, not so much so - I woke up in a coughing fit, which is far more like the previous symptoms I suffered when this last afflicted me, some fifteen months ago. Granted, it is an occasional demon, but it has crept up on me for the last few days without warning and I haven't appreciated it at all. And no, for those of you who are screaming, "Wow, if this last happened when you were pregnant, then maybe you are!" I'd like to say that I've taken three tests and they've all been negative, and last time Colin knew before I did - and this time he has no premonitions. We've been preventing, to a not-so-dependable degree, through the charting method. I haven't been doing basal body temperatures because 1) I am forgetful and 2) I would probably lose the thermometer. At the moment, condoms are nearly not an option because they would likely make Mom uncomfortable to have about and we've no good way to hide them, and I am unable to use most forms of birth control: hormonal treatments have made me ill in various unpleasant ways and even the plain copper IUD gave me problems that made it pointless to continue using. I have taken this as my body's sign that it doesn't want to be messed with, and considering some of the symptoms I suffered (debilitating cramps, horrible migraine headaches when I have otherwise never had a migraine, incredibly heavy bleeding when I already bleed well enough on my own, thank you, etc) I have no intention of arguing with it. The NuvaRing was functional enough until I realized that I had not been given a pivotal piece of information: you are only to use it at a certain point in your cycle, and otherwise it not only may not be as effective, but it will shift your cycle in whatever directions it pleases, and it will take months to adjust itself. I no longer remember how long it has been since I stopped using the ring, but my cycle is still off-kilter and shifts by several days (backwards, usually, which I'd like to think means it's going back to its old tendencies of the beginning of the month) here and there. The acid reflux can usually be treated; it's partially my own fault for giving into temptation and proving my low willpower by eating after when I know I ought to as a rule. Granted, waking up and having to stay that way for upwards of an hour, if not two, is irritating. This is the second time I've been up tonight, and thankfully the first time was treatable by spending a few minutes upright and doing my best not to think about the lingering pain in the back of my throat. The second time I wasn't quite so lucky, and I was forced to get up. I feigned a visit to the bathroom to retrieve some Tums, and six wintergreen extra-strength chalk tablets later (yes, above the reccommended four max, I know) I am out in the kitchen on Colin's computer, typing this and downing a glass of milk (about 16 ounces). This is routine when I have acid problems; the Tums are always my first line of defense, although they rarely work, much less really help anymore. I always go for the milk next, because given enough time (and moo juice) I can typically fix the problem enough to go back to bed. I do my best to sleep on my left side, though it doesn't help much. One would think that these late-night excursions would keep me from going back to my old eating habits, but c'est la vie.

The weather has been another monster of its own. Thunderstorms left and right for days, now, and I'm getting downright tired of it. They keep me up late, get me up early, and wake me out of a dead sleep at all hours. If I'm already up for whatever reason, they gleefully keep me that way. I get the impression that I'm just having all my dislikes and irritations lumped on me at once for the pleasure of a giggling deity.

Moving is a seperate problem that isn't worth discussing right now, if only because I could gag just thinking about the massive amount of work left to do, and how I sincerely don't believe any of it will be done by our self-set July 1st deadline.

One more half-cup of milk should do the trick, I think. I still have to clear my throat, and when I do, I still get up acidic phlegm vaguely reminiscent of chicken egg rolls.

My mother has a lazy susan in her house, in a side cabinet at floor-level. It's actually two shelves, with the lazy susan on the top shelf, and on this lazy susan - and the shelf below - there are many fascinating things that are totally inappropriate for a baby to play with. Seasonings (including chili powder, can't you imagine THAT hospital visit?), cooking sprays, glass bottles of all shapes and sizes, rather heavy canned goods, and a menagerie of other things that a one-year-old probably shouldn't be allowed to play with. Of course, this is a moot point, considering he's sitting in front of that cabinet right now, pulling things out and stacking them on the floor. Stacking things is a relatively new concept; he has seen us do it with his blocks and Legos, but has never actually attempted the feat himself. He's usually content to just watch us throw around his toys so he has the opportunity to knock them over again, our beloved little Godzilla. So he's stacking cans, miniature jars of off-brand baby food used for making homemade dog treats, empty decorative bottles of olive oil, and empty glass salt and pepper shakers. Naturally, he only usually succeeds in getting these Towers of Hell about two objects high, at which point he gives up temporarily and seeks refuge in pulling the protective caps off of the spray-tops of bottles of cooking spray. I really, really like the concept of olive oil-flavored cooking spray, but I don't like the idea of an olive oil-flavored baby. I don't think we have a roast pan big enough for him anymore.

I could just take these things away from him and close the door again, although there's no real way to baby-proof that particular cabinet. There's just one fatal flaw with this plan: doing so would make him scream. Today hasn't been a particularly bad day - or good, neutral really - but the idea of ruining the otherwise lovely mood of a content child has me edgy, so for now, I risk temporary blindness. Well, HIS temporary blindness. This has nothing to do with MY well-being.

On Sunday, our goober touched the stove. Let me be more specific: for the first time, he decided out of nowhere that it would be a REALLY GOOD IDEA to reach up and just kind of put a couple of fingers on that hot pan up there. Yeah, that one, with the food in it and the burner on underneath. It's funny how you can turn your back for all of three point four seconds, and during those few seconds a child can go from being across the room irritating your spouse to trying to singe off a couple layers of skin. This has never been a problem before, and I guess we weren't really ready for it, because afterwards, since neither of us actually saw him make physical contact with the pan, we kissed him and hugged him and told him it was okay, and then wondered for the next ten minutes why he was still flinging around his left hand and screaming for what seemed like no good reason. Does this make us bad parents? Probably, but I don't see anybody revoking my license - OH WAIT NOBODY GAVE ME ONE. That's the problem.

So we took him to the emergency room about two hours later, after stuffing him with lunch and breakfast simultaneously because let's face it, we knew we'd be there a good three or four hours, and that meant no lunch for Gabe. We got baths, cleaned up, and almost made it out the door just over two hours after he had originally touched the pan. He had big red blisters on the pads of both the index and middle fingers of his left hand, and it pissed him off, naturally. We got there, waited a while in the ER, then got to go to something called "urgent care," which really means "we figure whatever you've got isn't going to kill you in the next day or so, so you can sit here and wait extra-long in an eight-by six room with no magazines or cell phone service and a bunch of things your kid can't touch so you'll be forced to listen to him scream during your hour and a half wait." So we sat. And waited. Why? So a nurse could come in right out of 1982 (well, his hair did, at least) and ask us what's wrong, so we could tell him exactly what we told the nurses up front, and then twenty minutes later a doctor could come in and tell us yeah, he burned his fingers, here's some cream you can put on that, but I'm too busy to do it so a nurse is going to come in after me to do all of the actual work, and oh yeah, she'll bring you the cream too. After being assaulted by three more nurses in fairly rapid succession, we escaped with our lives. Barely.

His fingers are looking better, now, and he isn't acting as though his fingers are causing him any real pain anymore. Which I suppose is progress, considering what could have gone wrong if he had maybe touched that pan a millisecond longer than what he did.

On the plus side, it turns out he's about 32" long and weighs 24 lbs 6 oz, so that's not bad at all, right?

Also, we've been doing so much work here at Mom's that we're not getting anything done in the places it needs to be done: say, for instance, the new apartment.

My paragraphs are getting shorter. I should stop.